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feature article without learning something about the creative arts approaches. Second, the body psychotherapies. And third, transpersonal psychotherapy. Those three approaches are secretly driving the field right now. Can I explain to you? Val: Please, go ahead. Andrew: Words have their limits, and the whole point about creative arts therapies is that they’re much less dependent on words. Body psychotherapies actually indicate a capacity to work with the whole person, including their physical and embodied aspects. And finally, transpersonal psychotherapy, for me anyway, is about the more than personal, which goes in two directions. One, obviously, is the spiritual direction. The other is the political direction because, hey, don’t forget, politics is a transpersonal or more-than-personal activity. Val: And when you bring all these marginal therapies to the centre along with the sociocultural dimension, you are including the full spectrum of premodern healing practices, modern psychotherapies and postmodern perspectives. Andrew: You’ve extended my point in your question. The thing is, what looked marginal need to be brought to the centre. The problem is not that trainings don’t cover things – they cover everything I’ve mentioned – but they cover it in order of priority and a hierarchy of importance, which needs to be flipped round. It isn’t that people don’t talk about trans in trainings. They do, but they don’t do it in a way that, I think, makes the best use of all the history and all the tensions in the field. Val: You are calling for radical changes in the way that psychotherapists are trained? Andrew: Yes, I am. As I said at the beginning of this interview, we have to find a way to make our trainings more accessible and stop this relentless drive towards higher and higher standards. We need to reorganise the trainings around the experience of minorities in society because this tells us more than organising around the experience of the majority. And we need to make central what is known by the practitioners and theorists of therapies that have been located on the margins – art, body, transpersonal. Yes, we need a radical revisioning of psychotherapy training.


How gender and sexually diverse-friendly is your therapy training? Dominic Davies and Meg John Barker argue that GSD issues need to be integrated throughout therapy training and have a practical rather than theoretical focus


e were delighted to see all the major psychological and therapeutic bodies signing the Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy, launched at the Department of Health earlier this year (UKCP, 2015). This littleread document makes it an ethical obligation for therapists to be adequately trained to work with requests for changes to clients’ sexuality (we hope to see gender added to this soon). To meet that obligation, training organisations will need to develop a curriculum that embeds gender and sexual diversity issues throughout the syllabus, as well as ensuring separate specialist and specific material.

Unfortunately this still is very far from the current situation. When we were asked to write this article, we asked colleagues on our Pink Therapy Facebook group about their experiences of training. We found the situation had not changed since Davies explored it in a paper in 2007. At best, GSD training is a brief workshop delivered by an LGBT student, rather than a tutor, because they are ‘the only queer in the classroom’. Such tokenism means that many aspects and identities are excluded. This is unprofessional and inadequate. On some courses, students are encouraged to vote for a one-off additional afternoon’s training on a topic of their choice. In such situations GSD has to compete with other vital topics such as race and ethnicity, class and disability.

Dominic Davies is founder and CEO of Pink Therapy, the UK’s leading independent therapy organisation working with gender and sexual diversities (GSD). He was co-editor (with Charles Neal) of the first British therapy texts on working with LGBT people. Awarded a fellowship by BACP for his ‘outstanding contribution to the field’, Dominic has been delivering innovative training in GSD for over 30 years. Meg John Barker and colleagues provide GSD training for general counselling and psychotherapy courses and organisations. Information at:

The Psychotherapist issue 61: Autumn 2015  
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